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‘The Help’ Offers No Aid to New Releases

For the first time since January, a release jumped from a lower rung to number one. The Help, runner up last week, ascended to the top spot dropping just a shade more than 20 percent for a $20.4 million weekend haul. Its complete tally since release is $71.8 million, a highly respectable pull for film with a female lead and partially African-American cast. The new releases made blistering debuts all crowding out the dredges of the chart in short order.

It was a sad dreary weekend at the box office for new releases, which all bowed under the weight of maids and apes. Rise of the Planet of the Apes continues to perform well earning $16.3 million in ticket sales its third weekend and $133.7 million total. Overseas the apes have taken over $122.7 million for a worldwide total of $256 million. A franchise has been born (and it will die a slow death unfortunately as Hollywood only knows how to beat a dead horse and milk a dry cow).

Surprisingly, another movie no one thought would do so well continues to hang on week after week. The Smurfs dropped 41.7 percent from last weekend and now has $117.7 million in its domestic coffers. Overseas it has outdone the apes; picture that mash-up, folks.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World might spell the end of Robert Rodriquez love affair with halfwit children’s fare and put him back R-rated territory. The fourth in the franchise earned a paltry $12 million, the least of the series thus far. Conan the Barbarian, marketed and produced like a late summer tentpole, embarrassed its distributers with a fourth place finish and $10 million in the bank. So much for the sequel Jason Momoa already wrote for his now-dead franchise.

Fright Night did not inspire a new generation of fans either. Though the picture was the only one of the bunch to score a fresh label from Rotten Tomatoes reviewers, it still ranked sixth behind The Smurfs. Similarly, One Day was a snooze in the states — it opened with $5.1 million, though in considerably fewer theaters than the flops above it.

The Top Ten

1. The Help - $20.4M (weekend)…$71.8M (gross)
2. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $16.3M…$133.7M
3. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World - $12.0M…$12.0M
4. Conan the Barbarian - $10.0M…$10.0M
5. The Smurfs - $8.0M…$117.7M
6. Fright Night (2011) - $7.9M…$8.3M
7. Final Destination 5 - $7.7M …$32.3M
8. 30 Minutes or Less - $6.3M…$25.7M
9. One Day - $5.1M…$5.1M
10. Crazy, Stupid, Love - $4.9M …$64.4M 

Three movies attempt to break the dry spell in the last weekend of August. First up is Colombiana, an action revenge thriller starring Zoe Saldana. Marketing is tending toward the story and the star, banking on audiences gravitating toward the rising starlet and familiar story of revenge that have catapulted movies like Taken to box office gold. Colombiana will open the widest of the three at 2,500 locations.

Our Idiot Brother will open at 2,000 cinemas — the smallest release of the bunch. This movie has not received a large marketing effort. The previews emphasize two women in a family who blame their idiot brother for how badly their lives have turned out. This is a comedy, and given the trailer does not inspire laughter; I’d predict this movie being more than a small flop. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, though one of the most buzzed about movies of the summer, will only release in 2,400 theaters across the nation. Late summer horror can do relatively well, considering the genre. Movies like The Last Exorcism, Mirrors, and The Skeleton Key made modest final grosses in August. With the clout of Guillermo Del Toro as writer and the imagery of the trailers the monster movie may rise above a done-to-hell premise and unlikable stars.

All of these releases are on the medium side of wide release; none is near 3,000 locations and none should blow out the box office, but next week’s chart is anyone’s guess. Make your prediction in the comment section of the Box Office Wizard article this Friday right here on Player Affinity. Your hosts of The Plot Hole movie podcast discuss their opinions of new releases every Tuesday night as well; listen to Episode 20 to hear the latest reviews (see www.playeraffinity.com/podcast this Tuesday night).


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